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FROM TIME TO TIME – A Quarterly Report on the Activities Of the New Jersey League of Municipalities, April, 2010 – June, 2010.

Dear Mayor:
Here is an update on League activity during the second three months of 2010.

We have advocated for municipalities in Trenton by

  • Supporting the Governor’s 2.5% constitutional levy cap proposal, if and only if, it were to be amended and moved as the final piece, not the centerpiece, of vital property tax relief initiatives, which should include binding arbitration reform, health benefits reform, civil service reform, mandates relief, flexibility to deal with pension costs, utility costs, disaster and emergency response costs and other costs imposed by factors beyond the control of local leaders, and conformity of any new local caps to a new State spending cap.
  • Supporting the proposed 2.9% statutory levy cap, if and only if it were to be moved as the final piece, not the centerpiece, of vital property tax relief initiatives, which should include binding arbitration reform, health benefits reform, civil service reform, mandates relief, flexibility to deal with pension costs, utility costs, disaster and emergency response costs and other costs imposed by factors beyond the control of local leaders, and conformity of any new local caps to a new State spending cap.
  • Having League Executive Director Bill Dressel meet with Assembly Speaker Shelia Oliver to discuss the municipal legislative agenda and discuss ways the League can be of assistance in offering the municipal perspective on major policy issues.
  • Opposing the unfunded “Transparency in Government” mandates,  which would require, among others, every municipality in the State to present a ‘detailed plan’ to the State Treasurer for a new website that would be ‘readily accessible to the general public’ and that would provide, ‘in detail,’ a laundry list of information relating to expenditures, revenues and bonded indebtedness.
  • Opposing a proposed $3,841,000 State budget cut for what is commonly called the Medicare/Medicaid crossover, which leverages well over 100% of its value and brings Federal money to our state that we will not otherwise see. 
  • Continuing support for the helpful components of the Governor’s ‘toolkit’ package, which include binding arbitration reform, health benefits reform, civil service reform and greater management discretion in disciplinary matters.
  • Providing, through the testimony of League Labor Relations Counsel Brian Kronick, Esq., League Inter-local Municipal Cooperation and Management Advisory Service Coordinator Gregory Fehrenbach and Executive Director William Dressel, the municipal perspective on privatization practice, pitfalls, impediments and possibilities, for Governor Christie’s New Jersey Privatization Task Force.
  • Having Assemblyman Gordon Johnson meet with Tim Gordon, Chairman of the League's Civil Service Reform Committee, along with league staff members and Middletown Administrator Anthony Mercantante, who serves on the League’s Civil Service Reform Committee on a legislative proposal to allow towns to opt out of Civil Service.
  • Presenting the municipal perspective on Governor Christie’s proposed budget, through the testimony of League First Vice President Mayor Chuck Chiarello of Buena Vista Township, who told the Assembly Budget Committee that the proposed 20% cut in municipal property tax relief funding will present a serious challenge to local budget makers, struggling to provide essential municipal services effectively and efficiently.
  • Working with Senators Lesniak and Bateman, and Assembly Jerry Green to advance needed reforms to the Fair Housing Act and to COAH.
  • Along with the major environmental and sound planning advocates, led a large but ultimately unsuccessful campaign against the well-financed efforts of developers to eliminate the time of decision rule. 
  • Working with Senator Weinberg and the Municipal Clerks Association to address various issues with the Open Public Records Act that arose due to the Smith v. Hudson County Court decision, which made it critical that legislation was in place by July 1st that sets a flat fee for copies of public records. 
  • Continuing to work with the Administration and Assemblyman Johnson on reforms to Civil Service including title consolidation and opt-out legislation.
  • Supporting legislation regarding Free Public Library funding.  
  • Having League President Mayor Jim Anzaldi meet with Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Poonam Alaigh and discuss ways the League and DOH can work closer together on issues of mutual interest.
  • Having League President Mayor Jim Anzaldi and League Director Bill Dressel meet with DOT Commissioner Jim Simpson to discuss ways the League and Department can work closer together on issues of mutual interest.

We have advocated for municipalities in Washington by

  • Contacting our Congressional Delegation to gain support for the Local Jobs for America Act, H.R. 4812, which would direct $75 billion to municipalities and counties to save local government jobs and prevent layoffs. 
  • Working with our own Senator Robert Menendez to encourage the Senate to appropriate money for the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) program.   Funding for the program was initially authorized two years ago; however, it remained unfunded until economic recovery legislation passed last year.  Additional funds were not included in the Administration's budget request for fiscal year 2011. 
  • Notifying our members thatthe U.S. Department of Transportation announced the availability of $600 million in for the Department's National Infrastructure Investment Grant or TIGER II program.  For additional information on the program, see: http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2010/pdf/2010-9591.pdfPre-applications are due July 16, 2010, and final applications on August 10, 2010LC Opposes FCC Plan for Public Safety Interoperability
  • Supporting New Jersey Senators Frank R. Lautenberg and Robert Menendez, who joined other Democratic senators to introduce an emergency transit funding bill that would authorize $2 billion in emergency funding for transit agencies nationwide to reverse fare increases and service cuts. If enacted, the initiative could bring $125 million to NJ Transit to roll back fare increases and restore services cuts. The funds in the proposal could also be used to prevent future fare hikes and service cuts.

We have strengthened local leadership capacity by

  • Holding over 25-30 seminars on such timely and important topics of:
    • Budget and Audit updates
    • Ethics
    • Furloughs
    • Shared Services
    • Health Insurance Benefits
    • Labor Negotiations
    • Family Medical Leave Act and Family Leave Act
    • Personnel Policies
    • Foreclosures
    • Municipal Liens
    • Economic Redevelopment
    • Municipal Bonds
    • And many more……
  • Publications
  • Having League Executive Director Bill Dressel spoke before the Ocean County Mayors Association in Toms River on a broad range of legislative issues, which included property tax reform, the State Budget, Affordable Housing and mandates reform.
  • Having League Executive Director Bill Dressel speak before the 2010 Leadership NJ class at the Woodrow Wilson School of Government at Princeton University on the proposed State Budget and the impact on municipal governments.
  • Having League Executive Director Bill Dressel speak before the Bergen County Mayors Association at their monthly membership meeting in Hasbrouck Heights on a broad range of issues.
  • Having League Director Bill Dressel and Assistant League Director Michael Darcy, along with Program Specialist Danielle Holland, host our annual pre-conference planning meeting of the League Affiliate Associations in Jamesburg. Also attending the meeting was Marc Pfeiffer, Acting Director of the Division of Local Government Services, DCA, who gave an overview of the state budget and regulatory changes which have an impact on many of the affiliate associations in attendance.
  • Having League Executive Director Bill Dressel speak before the Camden County Mayors’ Association in Haddon Heights on broad range of leg issues of timely relevance.
  • Working with the New Jersey School Board Association to present a webinar on defeated school budget process, which featured Education Commissioner Bret Schundler and South Brunswick CFO Joe Monzo.
  • Having Mayor Jim Maley of Collingswood, Chairman of the League Economic Development Task Force host a meeting at the Robert Wood Johnson Wellness Health Club in Hamilton, which featured Economic Development Agency Executive Director Caren Franzini, who briefed the 25 member committee on the Administration's plans to assist communities and businesses in making NJ a friendly place to do business.

We have provided municipal officials with resources for problem solving by

  • Publishing three new booklets from our bi-annual series: Municipal Parking, Garage Sale, Flea Market & Auction Fees and Alarm Fees and False Alarm Penalties
  • Continuing to provide several resource centers on our website including, but not limited to: the Grant Resource Center, the Aging and Senior Resource Center, a Purchasing Resource Center and an Ordinance Library.
  • Convening, under the Chairmanship of Buena Vista Township Mayor Chuck Chiarello, League First Vice President, a meeting of the League's Emergency Management Task Force at the League offices in  Trenton, which included several mayors and state officials, including League Legislative Analyst Lori Buckelew, who staffs this committee for the League.
  • Having League Executive Director Bill Dressel meet with representatives of the Health Care Quality Institute to discuss the formation of a Mayors’ Committee on Life Sciences, which would establish a partnership between Mayors and the pharmaceutical industry in highlighting the economic benefits of that industry in our communities and in our State. That proposal was further refined over several weeks and was approved by the League officers in late spring and will become a League standing committee, which will develop educational sessions and resources for mayors on this timely issue.
  • Advancing the agenda of our Mayors’ Task Force for School Funding Reform, under the Chairmanship of League Board member and Eatontown Mayor Gerry Tarantolo, through meetings, research and the professional expertise of facilitator Eve Langer and Rutgers Professor Dr. Ernie Reock.
  • Hosting, in conjunction with the State DEP, the League’s 3rd Annual Mayors Brownfields Conference in Trenton. Over 75 mayors and various appointed professionals were briefed by DEP Commissioner Bob Martin and his staff on funding opportunities and other technical resources available from the DEP to assist in Brownfields clean up.
  • Hosting the League’s 15th Annual Baseball Appreciation Day at Trenton’s Waterfront Park, which included several mayors who attended the Brownfields meeting.
  • Hosting and administering year-round education seminars to help local officials deal with and solve issues and problems at the municipal level.
  • Providing an informational Legal Consultation Service through the Bureau of Municipal Information for municipal officials.
  • Keeping municipal officials advised of legal developments affecting municipalities.
  • Reviewing proposed regulations for municipal impact and commenting if appropriate. 
  • Visits to county leagues, etc.
  • Publishing the League Foundation’s local policy paper, “2010: A Stabilizign Economy but Uncertainties Remain.”   The paper is available at the Foundation’s website at http://www.njlmef.org

We have promoted municipal government by

  • Authoring several op-ed pieces defending the principles of home rule, self-determination, the need for COAH reform, Civil Service reform and property tax reform.   Multiple pieces ran in the Newark Star-Ledger, the Trenton Times, the Asbury Park Press, the Bergen Record and across the State.
  • Producing regular Media Alerts to the press, covering every aspect of new public policy developments in Trenton.
  • Encouraging all state and local officials to follow us on Twitter.  You can now follow the League on Twitter (http://twitter.com/njlofm)
  • The League's 2010 Census Awareness Committee Co-Chaired by Mayor Randy Brown, Evesham, and Mayor Wilda Diaz of Perth Amboy directed league staff to promote the importance of "getting out the count" by sending out numerous emails, faxes, mailings and postings on the league's home page.
  • League special committees and task forces and other initiatives
  • Featuring League Executive Director Bill Dressel on Channel 12’s Eye on Ocean County with host Laura Jones. The program dealt with a broad range of issues like property tax reform, the state budget and affordable housing.
Hosting the Quarterly Meeting of the League’s Educational Foundation, chaired by Foundation President Louise Wilson, at the league headquarters, which included an update on the Mayors’ Book Club, a recap of the March Social Media Conference in Newark and plans for a July 9 session on the Economy at Rutgers.

 

 

 

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